You might wonder why I came back so soon from California. Would you believe me if told you one of the reasons was Leos Janacek? It's true! The New York Philharmonic, hoping to repeat the succès fou of last year's "Grand Macabre," are offering a semi-staged performance of one of my favorite operas, Janacek's rarely performed "Cunning Little Vixen" - and just this week. The above image (from here) isn't quite what we saw tonight. Or rather, my friend J (who invited me to "Company" in the same house with the same orchestra) and I saw it from above - second box at the extreme top left! Still remembering the lovely City Opera production designed by Maurice Sendak, I was a little underwhelmed by the kids-playing-dressup aesthetics. (The Sendak apparently hasn't been performed since 1991.) And English just isn't a pretty singing language. But the music ... ! What is it about Janacek? ("The Makropoulos Case" is returning to the Met in the coming season, by the way!)
I would not even know who Janacek was, let alone have attended the Sendak production, were it not for my graduate school professor and close friend, the late VP. This opera was very dear to him, too. When he passed away now over ten years ago, we had a memorial gathering for which I put together a selection of music I knew he loved. (I am the custodian of his magnificent music collection to this day, ever making new discoveries.) It ended with the final scene of this opera.